The 2011 PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award for an American Playwright in Mid-Career went to Marcus Gardley.

The PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Awards recognize a master American dramatist and an American playwright in mid-career, both of whose literary achievements are vividly apparent in the rich and striking language of their work. The former receives a rare first edition of dramatic literature from Bauman’s Rare Books, the latter a $7,500 stipend. The awards were developed to reflect Laura Pels’ dedication to supporting excellence in American theater, as well as PEN’s commitment to recognizing and rewarding the literary accomplishments of playwrights. The judges of the Pels Awards are all distinguished members of the theater community.

2011 Judges

Kenny Leon, Laura Linney, Thomas Lynch

From The Judges’ Citation

“Marcus Gardley is a playwright of enormous distinction. He is also a very young man: he wrote his first play barely more than a decade ago, as an undergraduate at San Francisco State University. In the short time that has elapsed since, he has written and produced more than half a dozen plays, including On the Levee, which premiered at Lincoln Center this summer and was nominated for 11 Audelco Awards, including one for outstanding playwright; and every tongue confess, which premiered at the Arena Stage in 2010, and was nominated for the Steinberg New Play Award.

We’re not trying to rush Marcus Gardley: we know he’s nowhere near the middle of his career. We look forward to many more decades of his plays. Our choice of Marcus Gardley in the ‘Mid-Career’ category is driven by the recognition that his is a voice like no other. He is a true poet-playwright, one who melds a unique handling of the English language with dramatic story, making for mesmerizing theater. At the same time, his plays involve closely observed characters we know and recognize, stories that often spring from known events, and language of the everyday seamlessly turned into the language of poetry, resulting in dramatic work with resonances far beyond the realistic. As an artist of growing skill, he shows us who we are: our minor ambitions, our smaller and larger tragedies—sometimes redemptions—all with a unique and prophetic voice.”